He Said: “Don’t Cut The Ham Too Thin, Boys…”

Posted by on June 13, 2008


What a title for a blog post! But it does seem appropriate if we consider the life and business of Fred Harvey, who has the distinction of opening and running the first series of chain restaurants in the United States.

With the quote above as well as information on his life and times, we can see that from the 1800’s to the middle of the 1960’s, Fred Harvey and his “Harvey Houses” were places where one could get a good hot meal with goodly amounts of food as well as superior service.


Affiliated with the railroads, and in particular the Atchison, Topeka, and Sante Fe, it was more than a hot meal. His restaurants were clean and the staff was well trained in satisfying tired travelers looking for a meal and some relief from the stresses of travel.

Known for hiring, shall I say, pleasant looking staff, from my research in the links below, it indicated many a romance went on between the hired help and the customers! In fact, they carried a nickname: The Harvey Girls. (Google Book Link here for more information)


Later, operations branched out to beyond just restaurants. Says Harveyhouses.net:

“…After World War I, rising affluence, more automobiles, and more leisure time hurt the Harvey Company, but again they adapted and changed. While keeping many Harvey Houses, they moved away from full reliance on train passengers. They packaged motor trips of the southwest, including tours of Native American villages (Indian Detours) and such natural wonders as the Grand Canyon. They not only civilized the west, they also marketed the indigenous peoples and their arts and crafts….”

Although with the demise of the passenger railroads starting in the sixties, as well as selling out to a conglomerate in the same decade, the charm of the Harvey House lives on today.

I’ve assembled some links below to get you started on your exploration. There’s quite a bit of material, but it’s also fun! Enjoy your trip through time today and I’ll see you later.

Personally, I should have the podcasts up very soon and some sort of a more regular update schedule for the blog. Thanks again for continuing to stop by!


Fred Harvey Company (Wikipedia)

Harvey Girls link

Fred Harvey Collection: University of Arizona

Harvey Restaurants Link

Cline Library Photo Exhibit


(1-2) LOC & Prints & Photographs Division

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